What Causes A Narcissistic Mother To Be So Abusive?

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.

If you’re like most people, you probably wonder how a narcissistic mother can be so abusive to her children. Our concept of a mother is of someone who is supportive and loving, but a narcissistic mother is nothing like that. I experienced this first-hand with my narcissistic mother, and her abuse left me feeling worthless and unable to trust my own instincts. I always wanted to understand how she could treat someone she supposedly loved like that, and if you have a narcissistic mother, I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing. 

A narcissistic mother treats her children the way she does because she sees them as mere extensions of herself rather than independent human beings. She does this because she is dependent on loved ones for her own self-esteem, and therefore, she tries to control everyone in her life.

If you have a narcissistic mother, you need to understand how she thinks and feels to fully understand her abusive behavior. Her treatment of you stems from this devastating mental disorder, and when you learn more about it, it can help you to protect yourself from her emotional abuse. 

Why is My Mother Narcissistic?

Narcissism develops because of extreme deviations in what we think of as normal parenting. This can mean childhood neglect or abuse, but it can also refer to overly pampering a child. In either case, parents don’t treat the child as a person, but as an extension of themselves whose behavior reflects on them, and this results in trauma.

Because their parents viewed them in this way, the child never fully develops a healthy sense of self. They are never trusted to make their own decisions, and as a result, they have a fragile self-esteem and often develop a strong sense of self-loathing. As you can imagine, this is very difficult for a child to handle, and so the child buries their true self, and they construct a false self through which they interact with the world. 

The problem is that the false self is not capable of performing the functions of a normal, healthy ego. The child at this point also constructs grandiose ideas about themselves to compensate for the self-loathing they feel as a result of the abusive treatment they have experienced. But they aren’t able to inwardly sustain those grandiose ideas, and as a result, they need the people in their life to continually reinforce these ideas. 

How Does Narcissism Affect a Mother’s Behavior?

Because the narcissistic mother needs the people in her family, including her children, to prop up her false sense of self, she strives to control them as much as she possibly can. Additionally, narcissists are hypersensitive, and so, she can’t handle any criticism. She will see anything that even hints she is not a good mother as criticism. 

Of course, as her children grow, they begin to push back against parental authority, and to their narcissistic mother, this is intolerable. She becomes increasingly manipulative with them, and often, she may become overtly emotionally and even physically abusive. She wants her children to be dependent on her so that she can feel she can control them. 

For that reason, she will often do subtle or even sneaky things to undermine her children’s confidence and make them more dependent on her. This can be extremely damaging to her own children’s self-esteem, but it’s not the only strategy that narcissistic parents will employ to keep their children close to home. 

Another Narcissistic Strategy: Special Parents, Special Children

Another Narcissistic Strategy

Another strategy that narcissistic parents will often employ to keep their children dependent on them is one that often turns the children into narcissists themselves. They might work to convince their children that they are special and deserving of all the best things in life without having to work for them. 

They tell their children that they are entitled to all the good things in life because they are special. You might not think of this as abusive; after all, many parents feel their children are special. When a narcissist does this, however, they are not just being proud parents. They are combining this type of pampering with controlling every choice their child tries to make for their own life. 

They never let the child make independent decisions for themselves. Rather, the narcissistic mother using this strategy will oversee literally everything her child does. She is ultimately trying to also control everything her child says too. 

If her child acts up, this narcissistic mother will devalue her child by telling them they are acting contrary to their special nature. They are betraying not only themselves but their special family as well. This creates an unbelievable amount of pressure on her children. As a result, they hold onto the grandiose ideas their mother has instilled in them, but they too end up creating that false sense of self because her treatment never allows them to create a healthy sense of self. 

Does a Narcissistic Mother Ever Feel Remorse for Her Actions?

If you’re wondering whether you’ll ever get an apology from her narcissistic mother, don’t hold your breath. While no one can truly know what anyone else feels and narcissists, like everyone, have emotions, the narcissistic mother will bury any feelings of regret deep inside. 

As is common with NPD, the narcissistic mother can’t bear any kind of criticism, even that which she might feel inside. For that reason, she will bury any negative feelings she has deep inside, and of course, she uses a distorted logic to justify the actions she has taken. 

If she is criticized by her children, other family members, friends, or acquaintances, she will often respond with the characteristic narcissistic rage. She simply can’t open herself to the vulnerability of feeling as though she has done something wrong. To do so would risk the breakdown of her false self, and simply has no other internal mechanism to support her sense of self-worth. 

Final Thoughts

The reasons a narcissistic mother is so abusive to her children are related to the nature of her mental disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder results from traumatic experiences in childhood that leave the narcissist without a fully developed sense of self. This results in their need for a constant source of admiration and adoration, something called narcissistic supply. 

That causes them to manipulate and even abuse the people around them in order to control them and get them to give their narcissistic supply. This is true even for the children of narcissistic mothers who frequently suffer from the traumatic abuse she uses to get them to do what she wants. 

If you think your mother is narcissistic, you’re going to need to watch this post to learn these 7 strategies for detaching from toxic parents. These tips will help you protect yourself from her manipulation and narcissistic abuse. 


If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel


Narcissistic abuse takes a terrible toll on your life. I’m Patricia, and my mother is a narcissist, so I know what you’re going through. These blog posts will help you understand narcissism better and give you tips for dealing with the narcissists in your life. Healing starts here!

More to Explore

Free Roadmap

Want To Stop A Narcissist From Pushing Your Buttons?

Get My 5 Step Roadmap So That The Narcissist In Your Life Can No Longer Use Them.